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MOOD: 3-D television may still be ahead of its time for many home viewers

BY Christian Gossin Wilson Modified: September 8, 2010 at 3:00 pm •  Published: August 30, 2010
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The problems, however, are many. Users have complained about the size of the glasses, the uncomfortable nosepiece and the incompatibility between systems. Even though each company uses the same technology, Sony glasses, for example, won't sync with Samsung TVs.

Active shutter glasses cost about $150 each.

Experience

The experience is the most important aspect of 3-D. It will, unfortunately, vary. Set aside that there aren't many 3-D programs or movies offered. Will 3-D be as good at home?

Most of the appeal comes from the theater, says University of Oklahoma film professor Andy Horton.

"There's something amazing about watching 'Avatar' with hundreds of people in a large place. In ancient Greece, you could have 20- to 30-thousand people watching a tragedy. That's pretty amazing. And that's total 3-D."

The large film screen allows for more presence. You're there. It's larger than life. You're involved. It's in that arena that 3-D was born and will likely remain, Horton said.

At home, the biggest screen available is 60 inches, and it's advised by Sony to sit four to 10 feet from the screen. While this may not be a problem for some, for others, that's too close, sort of like sitting in the first few rows in the theater.

Also, the angle at which you watch affects how the picture looks. While straight ahead may be fine, the picture starts losing its effect when you start straying left or right.

Family-friendly equates to inclusivity, but if a family of four has to sit four feet in front of a television, bunched as close as possible together, to get the best out of the experience, it may not be worth it. As 3-D becomes more common in theaters, it may become less expensive and more worth making special trips for.

Gaming

This is where the potential lies. Gaming is about getting involved and transcending a spectator role, and 3-D was built for that reason. As a side note, gaming often involves a lone youth close to a television screen, which allows the 3-D to deliver in full.

With Sony's PlayStation 3 upgrade, the floodgates have opened for an era of gaming. For those gamers out there, imagine a "Call of Duty" where depth becomes natural, no longer having to rely on the silly two dimensions of original NES games such as "Duck Hunt."

Racing, action and sports games have the potential for greatness with 3-D, luring gamers into the rubber-burning, quest-faring, quarterback-crunching action.

With 3-D, you live the game. It really is an immersion experience.

Conclusion

"Hollywood knows it can do the special effects ... I think there will always be some special effects, fancy films out there," Horton said.

But fancy films in the theater are much different from programming in the home. While the thrill of having 3-D movies accessible in your house may be appealing, it probably isn't the time to invest unless you're already in the market. It will take a few years for television and film to expand the 3-D agenda, if it expands at all, and there's a lot that could happen before than.

But gamers may want to do some more research and take a hard look. If you have the money and the appetite for innovation, chances are the industry will oblige you.

For the everyday TV buyer, wait for the kinks to iron out and the technology to sharpen before you bring the theater all the way home.


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